Making Excellence Inclusive

Repatriation Project/NAGPRA Compliance

Wesleyan University Implements Repatriation Policy

Wesleyan University has implemented a Repatriation Policy, which commits the University to NAGPRA compliance, and also incorporates a means for other indigenous peoples to repatriate internationally. Cognizant of historic colonial policies toward indigenous peoples, the Repatriation Policy cites the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an international document that encourages repatriation to indigenous peoples. In relevant part, the Repatriation Policy states:

"As an institution of higher learning and one that promotes diversity and respect, Wesleyan University recognizes its past participation with other governmental and academic institutions during the 19th and 20th centuries, which disregarded the rights of indigenous peoples and created collections of their ancestors and cultural items without free, prior, and informed consent.
Wesleyan University commits itself to work in partnership with Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, descendant communities and all other indigenous peoples in repatriation efforts."

The Repatriation Policy also sets forth an internal procedural process, which has delegated decision-making responsibilities to the Provost with recommendations made by the Repatriation Coordinator or, in the case of human remains and cultural items held by the Wesleyan University Archaeology and Anthropology Collections (WUAAC), through an Advisory Opinion issued by the WUAAC Committee. The Repatriation Policy may be viewed here.    

In November 2013, the university formally apologized to native nations and indigenous peoples. A text of the full apology is available here.

If you have any questions related to NAGPRA compliance or international repatriation, please contact the Repatriation Coordinator at


2012-2013 Academic Year (Archived)

Wesleyan University Repatriation Process

Like many other schools, Wesleyan University is making an effort to come into compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) requirements.  Passed on November 16, 1990, this human rights legislation requires all federal agencies, museums, and educational institutions receiving federal funding to take part in the process of repatriating indigenous human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony to lineal descendants of Indian tribes, Alaskan Native villages, and/or Native Hawaiians.  In the mid-to-late 1990s, a summary of our archaeological and anthropological holdings that are subject to NAGPRA was registered with the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Notification letters were sent to federally registered tribes whom we have been able to identify as potentially having an interest in particular materials. We have not, however, completed our inventory given that we still need to take the next step of consultation with appropriate tribes and lineal descendants--and therefore have yet to repatriate our holdings.

Through an RFP process, Jan Bernstein, a Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Compliance specialist has been selected to conduct an initial review of the University’s collections to determine the steps needed to bring the University into conformity with NAGPRA.  Ms. Bernstein will develop a strategic plan for NAGPRA Compliance that will include:

  1. Comprehensive list of the holdings in a matrix for tracking NAGPRA compliance
  2. Description of the steps required to facilitate repatriation
  3. Descriptive list of the resources (personnel, facilities, and significant supplies) required 
  4. Timeline
  5. Budget

Faculty Committee (Currently Inactive)

J. Kehaulani Kauanui,  Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Studies

Patricia Hill, Professor of History and American Studies

Douglas Charles, Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology

Phillip Wagoner, Professor of Art History & Archaeology; Chair, Archaeology Program

Rob Lancefield, Manager of MuseumInformation Services / Registrar of Collections, Davison Art Center

Students for Wesleyan NAGPRA Compliance (Currently Inactive)

Nathan Ratner ’09, MA student in Anthropology

Emmy Levitas ‘11, Faculty Liaison

Rachel Cabrera ’11, Education and Outreach Coordinator

Stephanie Tapia ‘11

Laura Heath ‘11

Brigitta Glunk ‘12

Charlotte Cottier ‘12

For NAGPRA information:


NAGPRA Training

NAGPRA & Wesleyan: The Road to Repatriation - Faciliated by Jan Bernstein - Thursday, January 27, 2011

9:00-12:00 Noon, Usdan 108

This training is designed specifically for those Individuals on the NAGPRA Committee and others who are critical to Wesleyan University's compliance with NAGPRA .  Together the team will review the obligations of the University under NAGPRA, explore strategies for compliance, and begin to build capacity to engage in meaningful consultation with tribes.

NAGPRA Training Agenda: 

•What are Wesleyan’s obligation under NAGPRA? 

•Compliance strategies for Wesleyan University 

•Building capacity to engage in meaningful consultation with tribes

•Repatriation as a goal


Wesleyan University & NAGPRA

Campus Presentation with students, faculty and staff  

January 27, 2011 - 2:00-4:00 pm - Usdan 108 

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) turned 20 years old on November 16, 2010.  Join Jan Bernstein, President of Bernstein & Associates -NAGPRA Consultants, as she embarks on an exploration of what Wesleyan University has done since implementation and what it can do to continue to comply not only with the letter of the law but with the spirit of the Act.


Jan Bernstein's Bio

Jan first began working with museums to facilitate repatriation in 1986 when she joined a small team contracted to inventory, database, reconcile, rehouse, and report on the State of California Parks Department Native American holdings. Upon completion of that project she moved to New York City where she was hired by the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the oldest collecting Children’s Museum in the World, as a curator.  In 1990, she moved west again, this time to Denver Colorado where she continues to reside. As a principal of Museum Consultants, she helped area museums in their efforts to prepare for compliance with NAGPRA. From 1995 to 2003 Jan served as NAGPRA coordinator and collections manager for the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology. As adjunct faculty, she taught graduate courses at the University of Denver and University of Colorado in their museum studies graduate programs. 

In 2003, she founded Bernstein and Associates, LLC – Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Consultants.  In addition to helping clients further their NAGPRA compliance efforts, she helps build capacity to comply with NAGPRA.  Most recently she has been co-teaching a two-day seminar sponsored by the National Preservation Institute in Writing and Managing a Successful NAGPRA Grant.  She has also co-taught the webinar NAGPRA for Museums for the National NAGPRA Program. 

She holds a B.A. in Art and Art History from California State University Sacramento and a M.S. in Museum and Field Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder.